Barbara Lawlor, Peak to Peak. In an age when most kids express themselves in a shortened language of text messaging, it was refreshing to see a dozen local students and adults compete in the Liz Caile writing contest at Salto last Friday night.
Sponsored by the Mountain Forum for Peace, the event drew a crowd of families and friends of the burgeoning authors. Salto provided food and drink, a cheery fire and a stage for those who took the time to write about how water connects us in essay, poetry or with a visual artistic expression.
The 12-years-of-age and under category included 10 children who were eager to read their work about ecology and our relationship to the earth.
Mary Hughes, long time Nederland resident, explained that Liz Caile was a columnist for the Mountain-Ear newspaper for 20 years. Her work reflected integrity, deep research and a passion for the land. Liz would have been 72 years old now had she lived. She died in 1997. Five months before that, she wrote a column called “Thinking Like a Watershed,” a description of the complex system of the surface water on our planet.
Mary told the writers, “There are six prizes going to be given out tonight, but the real prize is all of you being here.”
Ward poet Mike Parker said, “I hope you all think of yourself as winners.”
The writers gathered in the ski tuning room at Salto and performed some voice exercises to ease the pre-reading jitters and loosen their vocal cords. Then they took the microphone, made themselves comfortable on a stool on the stage and read their work. As they read, judges Mary Hughes, Mike Sivcovich and Teagen Blakey had the difficult responsibility of choosing the winners.
Ruby Gustafson won first place in the kids’ category; Marguerite Bradley won the 13-and-over age category and John Hayward won the adult category. In the art category, Trinity LeBlanc, Taylor Johnson and Hope Jordan won the first place prizes.
Liz would have been proud to see what her work inspired and to know that the written word is still alive and well in Nederland.
(Originally published in the November 16, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)